BELIZE. The most comprehensive travel guide to vacationing in paradise.

BelizeFor some time now I’ve been thinking about what would make the best travel advice on traveling in Belize. Looking on the web for information is tedious and most times the information was spotty, written mostly by people who only saw a part of Belize on vacation or someone who has never visited Belize. Most of the information did not take into account the one critical detail that most potential visitors to Belize need to overcome, they have never been to the country and don’t know where to start. That’s where I come in. If you want to get updates on article releases, videos and specials on traveling to Belize subscribe tour our mailing list.

Born and raised in Belize, and having spent 25 plus years in tourism, 12 as a tour operator, I have traveled the country extensively and continue to do so daily experiencing all the splendor that is still Mother Natures best kept secret.

This guide will be broken down into parts with links to more detailed information on each section. Its best that you read through all, making notes as you move along. We will cover everything from How to get here, (Flights, bus, road,), entering and leaving the country, Belize north to south east to west getting around, major destinations and off the beaten path, restaurants, accommodations, activities, festivals, best times to visit and not so good times, costs and budgets, banking and credit cards, money exchange, etc.) Trust me on this the list is long, however, I plan to break it down in bite sized, digestible relevant information that I’m sure you’ll be glad you found in one place.

About Belize

Belize is the only Central American, Caribbean Country in the world. Bordered by the south and west by Guatemala, the North by Mexico and the East by the beautiful Caribbean Sea. Belize is locate only 2 hours flight from the continental United States and is the only English as a first language Speaking country in Latin America. Keep in mind we are a melting pot of ethnicities and speak many other dialects, including but not limited to Spanish and Kriol. (Belize Kriol, notice the spelling difference, is not like french creole or Portuguese creole, at its base is derived from African, British, Maya and Spanish, it is its own language and there is a dictionary and bible in Kriol.)

Belize is 8867 square miles which includes more than 200 other islands known as cayes (pronounce keys) the largest 2 are the most inhabited Ambergris Caye known as La Isla Bonita and Caye Caulker known as La Isla Cariniosa. These two islands are the most visited tourist destination in Belize for their beached but they are not the only part of the country with amazing beaches.

Breaking down Belize.

For you to start planning you need to understand the size of the country, distances between areas of interest, getting around, and location of activities, after all most guests visit to see the country and not to be locked up in a hotel room all day.

Belize is divided into 6 districts. Navigating these 6 districts are 4 major highways and while that number seems small, its imperative to plan accordingly between location, accommodation and activity. Lets get into this.

  • From the border with Mexico heading south east to Belize City, we travel first to Corozal Town (20 minutes from the border)  then to Orange Walk town ( 45 minutes from Corozal town) and then to Belize City ( 1 hour from Orange Walk town) this major highway is the Phillip Goldson Highway it was formerly the Northern Highway. A little further down, we will break down each district with hotels, tours, activities and things to do.
  • Heading West from Belize City to Belmopan the Captial City (1 hour about 50 miles) to San Ignacio/Santa Elena the twin towns ( about 30 minutes 22miles)  to San Jose Succutz and Benque Viejo Del Carmen Towns and the Border with Guatemala(20 minutes about 10 miles). This is the George Price Highway.
  • Heading south east from Belmopan the Capital City to Dangriga Stann Creek District. This is one of the most winding roads in Beautiful scenery. Its currently being upgraded with new bridges and road expansions. This normally takes about and hours drive and its about 50 miles. If you want to head to areas like Hopkins, or Placencia and your not taking the commuter flight south then you have to travel on this road, the Humming Bird Highway.
  • Heading south from Dangriga town Punta Gorda town in the Toldedo District. Total drive time is about 1 hour and about 60 miles. This is the southern highway.If you plan on driving anywhere in Belize, be aware than on all roads are speed bumps or pedestrian crossings. All of them originally had signs installed but not all of them have today, so stay aware and keep focused especially if you are in a rental car.Now that I’ve explained the road distances ill explain what was the point. Lets say you book accommodation in Placencia. (One of the most beautiful places in the south of Belize its an hours drive from Dangriga heading south on the Southern Highway turning off onto the Placencia Peninsula Road.) and you wanted to do one of our top excursions to Xunantunich ( near the border with Guatemala) and Cave Tubing ( 12 miles from the capital in route to Belize City), you would have to travel a minimum of 2.5 hours to the excursions start point, spend 6 hours on tour and then 2.5 hours back. This is where planning activities and accommodations by location comes in. For example, if you wanted to do 7 days in Belize you could split the areas that you are staying and match with activities in that area. If you were only here for a couple days you would match your accommodations to the areas close to your activities of interest. Last year we had a group of 12 book Xunantunich, Cave Tubing and Zipline from Placencia. We had to send 2 driver / guides from Belize City at 3am to do pickup at 6am. They finished the tour at 7pm ate and then head back to the city.

Culture of Belize

Belize is made up of so many different cultures, the original inhabitants were Maya, in Belize at the moment we still have 3 different Maya ethnic groups, the Mopan, the Kechie and the Yucatec Maya. The Yucatec Maya came to Belize during the Ware of the Casts in the Yucatan. More than 10,000 Mayas came south seeking refuge in Belize. As many of them were mixed Maya and Spanish they were referred to as Mestizo however as of late they prefer to be called by their ordinal heritage. Also making up the melting pot of Belize are Garifuna, East Indians, Kriol, Chinese, Indians, Central Americans from every country, Lebanese to name a few.

Belize Food!

This rich deep culture brought with it some of the most diverse ethnic cuisine and no shortage of local mom and pop restaurants, street food, market food or elegant dining experiences, there is something for everyone. We will get into great details with food, and over the next couple months adding videos to our youtube channel.

Getting to Belize. (Air)

For many years there were only a few airlines traveling to Belize. Continental now United, American Airlines, TACA, however over the last 10 years there has been a not only a boom in airlines coming to Belize, but also direct from other Major US hubs. So lets create this lists and the cities they fly from. Quick note, Belize currently only has 1 international airport. All international carriers fly Into the Philip Goldson International Airport PGIA. From there you ground transfer or take local puddle hopper flights around the country. The PGIA is located 10 Miles from Belize City in the village of Ladyville. (side note there are 2 absolutely must have apps you need to get if you are looking for a great deal on flights and travel. Hopper and Momondo I use hopper to monitor flights that I’m interested in and it gives me updates when the price drops or increases, if you have varying days that you can travel then momondo is where it is. It gives you the best deals and locations. This is more for if you don’t really have a destination in mind and just want to get away.)

United – United flies to Belize from around the world connecting from Bush International Houston. https://www.united.com/en/us

American – American flies to Belize connecting from Dallas Forth Worth. https://www.aa.com/homePage.do?locale=en_US

Southwest – Southwest has direct fights from Houston Hobby to Belize City, since March 2017 they also have direct flights from Denver Colorado. https://www.southwest.com/

Delta – Delta flies daily with a direct flight from Atlanta. https://www.delta.com/us/en

COPA Airlines – Copa has twice weekly flights between Belize City and Tocumen International Panama, with connections to South America. Flights depart Belize City at 2:07pm Tuesdays and Fridays arriving at 5:23pm at Tocumen International Panama. https://www.copaair.com/

AVIANCA – Direct flights to Belize from El Salvador. https://www.avianca.com/

Westjet – Since October 2018 Westjet has been flying direct from Toronto to Belize. Flights depart Toronto at 9:15 a.m., arriving in Belize City at 11:59 a.m. https://www.westjet.com/

Getting to Belize by Land

Coming from Mexcio – ADO buses now have daily buses to Belize direct from Cancun Mexico and Merida Yucatan Mexico. Travel time from either destination to Belize City is around 8 hours. https://www.ado.com.mx/

There are a bunch of small bus lines operating from Guatemala to Belize. Fuente del norte http://www.transportesfuentedelnorte.com/ and Linea Dorada http://www.lineadorada.com.gt/

Getting to and From Belize by Boat.

Yes this is possible though Puerto Barios Guatemala and Punta Gorda Toledo and Through Boat Starla which departs Belize City heads to Dangriga town stann creek, then to Placencia, Belize and then onto Puerto Cortez Honduras. For a full list of departure and times and dates from Belize, Guatemala and Honduras and to make bookings Click Belize water taxi to and from Belize, Guatemala and Honduras.

Local Transfers in Belize.

If you need transfer services anywhere in Belize from Border to border and all destinations in between feel free to send us an inquiry. Belize Fun Tours provides top transfer services at the best rates.

Local Flights

Belize only has 3 local airlines. The two largest being Maya Island air https://www.mayaislandair.com/  and Tropic Air https://www.tropicair.com/ . The third airline is a smaller Cari-Bee https://www.caribeeair.com/

Water Taxi shuttle between San Pedro Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker to Belize City.

While there are 2 water taxi services in Belize, we can only recommend 1 at this time. We strongly recommend San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi for its service and reliability https://belizewatertaxi.com

Belize Departure Tax

Read our complete guide to Belize departure tax here.

Car Rentals in Belize.

This is a topic that I’m particularly biased on. My experience in Miami has been the same here in Belize and ill give you my opinion based on experience nothing else. Some years ago I was heading to a trade show in Ft Lauderdale and flew in through Miami, before my trip I booked various car rentals just to be sure id have a rental when I got in. Once there I Budget did not have the desired model reserved, ALAMO same. What made it worse is that none tried to accommodate. One of the rentals I had reserved was from a little company Royal Rent a Car, they got me on a shuttle as I called from the courtesy phone, got me into a car and had me on my way.

There are many car rentals chains in Belize, Thrifty, Budget, ALAMO, Hertz to name a few, but the one that have been the most helpful ever is Crystal Car Rental. We had a team doing a video scouting shoot in Belize. I was leading the team personally and we were in the mountain pine ridge. On the way back I hit some ripples in the road and ran off the road into a ditch. (I came out no scratches) however I cant say the same for the jeep. We managed to get it back onto the road but with the entire front end under carriage destroyed. I went out ahead to get a cell signal and called crystal toll free number (7777777) yes 7 sevens and they sent out the wrecker. When the wrecker arrived it had a replacement jeep on the back. They took in the other jeep and the driver asked me no questions. 3 days later when we wrapped up and I returned to the agency they informed me the jeep was totaled. Luckily I had taken the insurance and the only cost to me was the deductible 1500USD. I actually felt really bad but was glad I took the insurance. Fast forward 8 years they are the only Belize Car Rantal I use and recommend. Jay and Milly became family not just because how they treat me but how they look after all guests. They really treat everyone with the same care. INSIDER SCOOP! CRYSTAL IS THE ONLY CAR RENTAL TO ALLOW ITS VEHICLES TO CROSS INTO GUATEMALS TO GO TO TIKAL! https://crystal-belize.com/

Festivals, and things to do in Belize. Locations and Times of the Year.

There is always something to do in Belize. Belize is home to different festivals paying homage to everything from food, to religion, to culture to independence. (Independence is a whole month long)

January – January 1st its the Krem annual Cycling Classic as well as local Horse Race in Burrel Boom Village

March – coinciding with Heroes day which was formerly Baron Bliss Day, we have the La Ruta Maya Belize River challenge it happens on the weekend closest to the 9th of March. The canoe race is a 4 day race starting on the Friday in San Ignacio Cayo finishing on the Monday in Belize City. People follow the race at each stop to see who won as well as sample excellent local food and drinks at every stop.
Day 1) San Ignacio to Banana Bank Lodge
Day 2) Banana Bank Lodge to Double Head Cabbage
Day 3) Double Head Cabbage to Burrel Boom VIllage
Day 4) Burrel Boom Village to Belize City.

Also in March is the Annual Agriculture and Trade Show in Belmopan. Again its weekend event with all the agriculture and produce of the country on display. Two of the main attractions is the Farmer of the year as well as Rodeo!

The last week of march to first week of April brings us to the Easter Weekend and in Belize its another reason to party. While it is a Religious holiday and Good Friday and Easter Monday are public and bank holidays, Holy Saturday is home to the Annual Holy Saturday Cross Country Cycling Classic. Also many Belizeans take to the beaches for they party of choice. If you happen to be on Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker on any the Easter weekend we can guarantee you’ll have a blast on holy Saturday and Easter Sunday.

Also on the Easter weekend in San Ignacio Cayo is the San Ignacio Fiesta. A weekend long fair with local food and rides. These fiestas are a part of the Religious heritage we inherited from the Spanish that was brought to Belize by they mixed Maya Spanish the came during the War of the Casts. If you notice the name of the Town San Ignacio (Saint Ignatious) all the towns have names of female or male saints from Roman Catholic Origin.

Later in March we have the San Jose Succutz fiesta. San Jose Succutz is the village that borders the Maya Ruins of Xunantunich. It directly faces the hand drown ferry used to cross the Mopan River to Xunantunich. Much the same as the San Ignacio fiesta its a Religious dedication fair based on Roman Catholic beliefs. Of note these fairs are exceellent to get local Maya and Spanish cuisine. Corn Tamales cooked on Plantain Leaf, bollos, Relleno Negro, Pibil, Escabeche, Dukunu and the list goes on.

May brings us to Belize Cashew Festival. Just to clarify a cashew is not a NUT its a fruit! Many people don’t know that cashews are fruits similarly to the Strawberry the nut is actually on the outside. If you ever wondered why cashew nuts are so expensive its because there is only 1 nut to 1 fruit. This festival is held in the Village Of Crooked Tree, home to cashews and the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary one of the most amazing bird sanctuaries on earth. On a final note about the cashew festival, while most North Americans are familiar with the nuts they are not familiar with the wine. Yes Belize is home to some of the most amazing natural fruit wines in the world and the Cashew Wine is the king of this category!

May is such a packed month. Belize Cacao Festival in Toledo district. If you are a chocolate lover then this is the festival for you. The ancient maya used the beans as barter currency for food and clothes. Yes this was the predecessor to crypto currency by about 3000 years 🙂 Learn the process from growing to cultivation to processing and p[production. A fun filled way to get your chocolate fix.

June the month of Lobster!!! Yes coinciding with the opening of the Lobster season there are 3 major Lobster Festivals. One in San Pedro Ambergris Caye, one in Caye Caulker and one in Placencia. They are all held on different weekends so you get to enjoy each if you so chose.

July is one of the most well known festivals. The Benque Fiesta, celebrated in Benque Viejo Del Carmen village the closest village to the Belize border with Guatemala. One of the famous Religious festivals. Again its one of the top opportunities to sample local Maya Spanish Cuisine.

August brings us to the annual Costa Maya Festival in San Pedro Ambergris Caye, this was formerly the Sea and Air Festival. This festival is also home to the annual Miss Costa Maya Pageant. Participants hail from most of the Central American Countries.

Also in august is the San Joaquin festival in the village of San Joaquin in the Corozal District. Much like the San Ignacio, San Jose and the Benque Fiesta, this is one of the Religious Festivals but is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in local culture.

The entire month of September is a celebration in Belize. Every year the September celebrations committee releases a list of activities for the month. You can check back here in august to see that list of activities. The 10th is Battle of St Georges Caye day and the 21st September is our election day. Our annual carnival is also held in the month of September.

November is the considered our culture month. The 19th of November we celebrate Garifuna Settlement Day. If you have the opportunity its the best time to book your accommodations south. Dangrigia, Hopkins, Placencia all excellent places to be. Near Placencia is the Village of Sein Beight a Garifuna Village. From any of these areas you can visit Dangriga and be a part of the festivities. I can tell you this is one of the rear opportunities to sample the amazing Garifuna culture and cuisine in all its glory.

Tours and Excursions.

From Reef to Ruins to Rainforest Belize has something for everyone, and if you have a week you can experience the most the country has to offer. We will break down tours by type and availability by area. Keep in mind the price varies on the distance travelled. For Example, Actun Tunichil Muknal caves is available from Both San Ignacio and from Belize City, however the costs is more from Belize City as its further away. This is also true for Caracol Maya Ruins, its closer to San Ignacio so it costs less than from Belize City. Many of these tours can be combined as full day tours.

Tours from San Ignacio Cayo District.

Maya Ruins Tours

Cahal Pech Maya Temples
Xunantunich Maya Temples
Caracol Maya Temples
TIKAL Peten Guatemala

Combination Tours
Xunantunich Maya Ruins and Che Chem Ha Caves
Xunantunich Maya Ruins and Cahal Pech Maya Ruins
Xunantunich Maya Ruins, Cave Tubing and Zipline
Xunantunich Cahal Pech and Ajaw Choclates.
Caracol, Rio on Pools, and Rio Frio Caves.
Barton Creek Caves and Ziplines

Caves Tours
Chechem Ha
Barton Creek
Actun Tunichil Muknal ATM Belize.
Nohoch Che’en (Cave Tubing)

Adventure Tours
Black Hole Drop
Zipline Angel Falls
Zipline Nohoch Che’en

Cultural Tours
Ajaw Chocolate

Tours from Belize City.

All tours that depart Belize City are available to San Pedro Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, it only requires that guests take the 6:30am water taxi to Belize City or the 7am flight.

This list includes single tours and combination.

Altun Ha Maya Ruins
Altun Ha and Belize Cave Tubing Nohoch Che’en Archaeological Reserve

Altun Ha and Baboon Sanctuary
Altun Ha and The Belize Zoo

Altun Ha, Belize Cave Tubing Nohoch Che’en Archaeological Reserve and Zipline
Community Baboon Sanctuary (Howler Monkey Sanctuary)
Lamanai Maya Ruins

Belize Cave Tubing at Nohoch Che’en Archaeological Reserve and Zipline
Belize Cave Tubing Nohoch Che’en Archaeological Reserve and The Belize Zoo
Xunantunich Maya Ruins

Xunantunich Maya Ruins and Belize Cave Tubing at Nohoch Che’en Archaeological Reserve
Xunantunich Maya Ruins and Belize Cave Tubing at Nohoch Che’en Archaeological Reserve and Canopy Zipline
Xunantunich and The Belize Zoo
Xunantunihc Maya Ruins and Cahal Pech Maya Ruins

TIKAL Maya Temples, Peten, Guatemala. NOT AVAILABLE FROM SAN PEDRO or Caye Caulker – 12 hour tour!
Caracol Maya Ruins – NOT AVAILABLE FROM SAN PEDRO or Caye Caulker – 8 hour tour!

Caracol Maya Ruins and Rio on pools NOT AVAILABLE FROM SAN PEDRO or Caye Caulker – 9 hour tour!

Actun Tunichil Muknal Caves (Full day tour)

Tours from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye – Tours depart Belize City and you are required to take the water taxi or local flight to Belize City.

Altun Ha Maya Ruins
Altun Ha and Belize Cave Tubing Nohoch Che’en Archaeological Reserve

Altun Ha and Baboon Sanctuary
Altun Ha and The Belize Zoo

Altun Ha, Belize Cave Tubing Nohoch Che’en Archaeological Reserve and Zipline
Community Baboon Sanctuary (Howler Monkey Sanctuary)
Lamanai Maya Ruins

Belize Cave Tubing at Nohoch Che’en Archaeological Reserve and Zipline
Belize Cave Tubing Nohoch Che’en Archaeological Reserve and The Belize Zoo
Xunantunich Maya Ruins

Xunantunich Maya Ruins and Belize Cave Tubing at Nohoch Che’en Archaeological Reserve
Xunantunich Maya Ruins and Belize Cave Tubing at Nohoch Che’en Archaeological Reserve and Canopy Zipline
Xunantunich and The Belize Zoo
Xunantunihc Maya Ruins and Cahal Pech Maya Ruins

Reef Tours from Ambergris Caye
Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Ally Snorkeling
Mexico Rocks Snorkeling
Blue Hole Snorkeling
Blue Hole Diving
Altun Ha Maya Ruins
Altun Ha and Belize Cave Tubing Nohoch Che’en Archaeological Reserve

Altun Ha and Baboon Sanctuary
Altun Ha and The Belize Zoo

Altun Ha, Belize Cave Tubing Nohoch Che’en Archaeological Reserve and Zipline
Community Baboon Sanctuary (Howler Monkey Sanctuary)
Lamanai Maya Ruins

Belize Cave Tubing at Nohoch Che’en Archaeological Reserve and Zipline
Belize Cave Tubing Nohoch Che’en Archaeological Reserve and The Belize Zoo
Xunantunich Maya Ruins

Xunantunich Maya Ruins and Belize Cave Tubing at Nohoch Che’en Archaeological Reserve
Xunantunich Maya Ruins and Belize Cave Tubing at Nohoch Che’en Archaeological Reserve and Canopy Zipline
Xunantunich and The Belize Zoo
Xunantunihc Maya Ruins and Cahal Pech Maya Ruins

Places to see in Belize.

Ohh this is going to be one of those chapters. There are so many things to do and places to see, we can break these down into location. Most of these places are available on any of the many tours that are offered. We will link to pages with descriptions of the different areas of interest. You will be able to read write-ups as well as book excursions related to those areas.

Corozal District

Santa Rita Maya Ruins
Cerros Maya Ruins
Expat retirement area of Consejo Shores.
Miami Beach Corozal

Orange Walk District
Lamanai Maya Ruins
Cuello Maya Ruins

Belize District
Altun Ha Maya Ruins
Community Baboon Sanctuary

Bacab Eco Park
Old Belize and Kukumba Beach
Museum of Belize

Cayo District
Nohoch Che’en Archaeological Park – Belize Cave Tubing
Belize Zipline at Nohoch Che’en Archaeological Park Belize
ATV 4wheeler off road adventure
The Belize Zoo
Guanacaste National Park
Banana Bank Horse Back Riding
St. Herman’s Cave and Inland Blue Hole
Black Hole Drop at Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch
Actun Tunicil Muknal – ATM Caves Belize
Barton Creek Caves
Barton Creek Kayaking/Canoeing
Barton Creek Ziplining

Rio Frio Caves Exploration
Rio On Pools
Caracol Maya Ruins
Cahal Pech Maya Ruins
Chechem Ha Caves
Xunantunich Maya Ruins
TIKAL Archaeological Reserve in Peten Guatemala

Stann Creek District
Xtreme Zipline
Xtreme Water Fall Rappelling
Hopkins

Placencia
Whale Shark Snorkeling
Monkey River Tour with Manatee Watch
Bocawina Resort Zipline and ATV

Toledo District

Organic Chocolate Farm
Indigenous Garifuna Drumming
Nim Li Punit Maya Ruins
Hokeb Ha Caves